Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ninety Six Years of Great Living

Robertson County
Tennessee lost another hero this week. Joe Harvey McClanahan ended this chapter of his life on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2009 at his home. This information is taken from an article I compiled in 2008 for his 95th birthday. I have added some notes and pictures. As researchers and family historians, people like Joe Harvey are rare. He remembered minute details about every person he encountered. He had a keen, discerning eye which I admired. Thank you Joe Harvey.

When I need to learn about any event in Robertson County or any person who lived in the last 150 years, I turn to one person, Joe Harvey McClanahan. He is the historian’s historian. Joe Harvey is an active member of this community and a former businessman. He is a charter member of the Springfield Lions Club and a 48-year-member of the American Legion. He was a lifelong member of Springfield Baptist Church and likely to be seen around town at the Farmers’ Bank Coffee Club or learning about new happenings in town.
Joe Harvey McClanahan was born 20 August 1913 in the house where he lives today.[He died in the same room he was born.] His parents were Albion Amzi McClanahan and Ella White McClanahan. Across the street his nephew, Wilbur McClanahan was born in 1914. Wilbur and Joe Harvey would become close friends and playmates.
The McClanahan family moved into the house at 251 Oak Street (now known at 315 Oak Street) after Dr. A.A. McClanahan purchased the house and lot from Kate England in 1897. In his book, The Springfield I Have Known, Charles Love discussed the backside of this property at the turn of the century.
There were no buildings on the East side of Walnut Street between Third and Fourth avenues. Milton Green’s pasture embraced all of the territory between Oak and Walnut streets and the martin (now Tony Dowlen) property. Along Walnut street between the Green pasture and Third Avenue were the cow lots of G.P. Martin, Dr. McClanahan, John R. Long and others.
As a youth, Joe Harvey had a continuing love for the trumpet and band music. One band he led was called “Blues Chasers.” Their theme song was “Goodbye, Blues.” They traveled throughout the area playing for dances and special events. Among the band members were Charlie Brandon, Herbie Knowles, G.B. Kemper, Bobby Rosson, Johnny Whiting, Haywood Couts, Howard Byrum, Ellis Binkley, and Pope Johnson. His love for music continued. He was a charter member of the Springfield Lions Club where he received the Melvin Jones Fellow Award and also directed the first Springfield [Tenn.] Lions Club Minstrel.
Joe Harvey attended Main Street school and graduated from Springfield High School and also attended Castle Heights Military Academy in Lebanon [Tenn.].
A few years later, he opened the Gulf Pride Service Station, which was located at 4th and North Main, across from the Center. He was a contractor and insurance agent for White-McClanahan Insurance Agency. Mr. McClanahan purchased the Stinnett Coal Company, which later became McClanahan Lumber Company, which he owned and operated with his son, Harvey, until his retirement in the mid-1990s.
Shortly after the marriage of Joe Harvey to his wife, Ruth Glover, the McClanahans moved into what they call the “little house.” According to the family, Joe Harvey built the little house in 1935. His first two children, Harvey and Gail [Holman], were born in the little house. After A.A. McClanahan broke his hip, Joe Harvey and his family moved into the big house about 1938.
The second floor of the house at 315 Oak Street became the home for Joe Harvey, Ruth and their growing family. Their third child, Ella [Bellflower], was born after the family was living in the “big house.” The former pump room of the big house became the kitchen for the family. Joe Harvey had grown up hearing stories about the pumping of water from his older brothers, White and Albion. The front room became Joe Harvey and Ruth’s bedroom. Their children called it the “big room.” Gail and Ella shared a bedroom at the rear of the house beside the kitchen. Harvey’s bedroom was very small. There was just enough room for a bed and a chest.
The family flourished and enjoyed their home. They lived and played in their second floor home for many years. With the exception of weekends, they ate their meals upstairs in the kitchen / dining room. On the weekends, they would go downstairs and dine with Joe Harvey’s parents (or as the children called them, Grandmother and Papa.)
Joe Harvey entered the U.S. Army during World War II. He completed training for the Infantry, was involved in combat in France, and completed his service as an Army clerk. After his military service, he returned to Springfield and the Gulf Pride Service Station. Joe Harvey was involved in several business interests, but we all remember his involvement with McClanahan Lumber on Cheatham Street. He was member of American Legion Post #48.
Joe Harvey and his family have celebrated every Christmas together on Oak Street except one. The family moved to Silver Springs, Maryland, in 1943. Joe Harvey was working in a bakery, until he was called into service. The family moved back to Springfield eighteen months later. Ella remembered celebrating her fourth birthday in Maryland.
[Let me add a note to this memory. During World War II, Joe Harvey was a member of the 4th Infantry Division in France. He completed his Infantry training and remained in the Infantry until the end of the War. Just prior to his discharge, he was encouraged to change his military status so he would receive more compensation. With a young family he changed his status or MOS. Several years after the War, a military friend and colleague wrote Joe Harvey a letter telling him that he was eligible for a Combat Infantry Badge for personally participating in active ground combat while a member of infantry unit after 6 December 1941. Joe Harvey applied for this Badge and was turned down because he had changed his MOS from Infantry to a Clerk. All parties agreed he would have been eligible except for the change in his MOS. He worked with every elected official throughout the years, but was unable to gain that medal. We once thought we could obtain this medal for Joe Harvey and have it presented to him. A medal was purchased and mailed to him with the return address of the awarding organization, but the postage endorsement indicated it was mailed from Springfield, Tenn. He immediately questioned his daughter, Gail, about who might have sent this medal. He was unwilling to accept the medal except if presented from the U.S. Army. He was still working on that at the time of his death. ]
Your life is an inspiration to all who had the pleasure of knowing you. Thanks for the memories and life lessons.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Atlas Will Broaden Early Tennessee Research

Whenever we have an opportunity to understand the land around us, we should take advantage of that education. The state of Tennessee is a diverse landscape with people whose background is as widely varied as the terrain where they settled. Tennessee is distributed into three natural geographic divisions called East, Middle and West Tennessee. These geographic grand divisions correspond to the political, economic and settlement cultures of the state’s three regions.
The land that became the state of Tennessee was originally part of North Carolina. The King’s Proclamation of 1763 was intended to prevent settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains on the land of native people. However, settlers in southwest Virginia just continued to move down the valley into what is today, Tennessee. The first permanent settlement in Tennessee was made in 1769 on Boone Creek by Capt. William Bean, who came in that year from Pittsylvania county, Va. His son, Russell Bean, is said to have been the first white child born in the State.
Soon after Bean made his settlement, in 1770 and 1771, James Robertson. Landon Carter and others, laid the foundation of the Watauga settlements, which at first were in what is now known as Carter county. The steady stream of emigrants from the older States, however, soon forced these to overflow into the territory now embraced in Washington and Greene counties. Richard Henderson and the Transylvania Company purchased most of the land in northern Middle Tennessee and Kentucky from the Cherokees. In 1780, James Robertson and John Overton brought settlers to the area of Nashville.
With the Revolutionary War, colonies (states) did not have an abundance of money, but did possess unsettled land. Soldiers were promised land in return for service. The military district for the state of North Carolina covered the Middle Tennessee area from the Tennessee River eastward into Clay county. These soldiers or their heirs were given grants on the basis of military service in the North Carolina Continental Line. In addition, North Carolina granted land to those families who were settled in the area (or prempted) prior to statehood. Land was also available to surveyors and assistants, commissioners, individuals for special service and, finally, to the general public for purchase.
Knowledge of these land grants paint a vivid picture of life out on the frontier. Identification of trails, stations, forts and homeplaces would make understanding the Cumberland settlements more complete. It was just that desire for knowledge that led three historians to construct the Founding of the Cumberland Settlements: The First Atlas 1779 – 1804. Doug Drake, Jack Masters and Bill Puryear studied and worked together to compile the first land grants located in portions of eleven counties in Middle Tennessee. In addition this book will include the locations of publicly designed areas, early Indian trails, traces and roads.
Doug Drake traces his kin back to signers of the Cumberland Compact and an original pioneer, John Drake. Jack Masters is a retired Engineering Manager of Aladdin Industries in Nashville and an active member of Bledsoe Lick Historical Association and Sumner County Historical Society. Bill Puryear is a Sumner county native with roots in Dixon Springs & Hartsville and he chairs one of the largest charitable foundations in Tennessee. All three are active historians. In a discussion with Jack Masters at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, he told me that three came together through the Bledsoe Lick Historical Association. One of them mentioned that they should locate the original road or trace and began their search. They learned about the North Carolina land grants and a three-year project was born.
This book will become a well-used reference for land and family historians of Tennessee. The Atlas includes the 1500 land grants taken from the manuscripts of the North Carolina Secretary of State Land Grant Office. This will include a transcription of the land description along with a copy of the surveyor plats from the grant.
Drake, Masters, and Puryear started this project in an effort to locate sites of stations and roads. With the information learned from these grants, these men have been able to identify original sites and have walked the grounds of these pioneer roads. Their first book covers all of Robertson, Macon, Trousdale and Sumner counties and portions of Cheatham, Davidson, Montgomery, Wilson, Smith, and others.
In addition, these compilers have included topographic maps depicting the earliest Indian trails, pioneer roads/traces and a sequence of maps depicting the growth of settlements. In addition to an every-name index, you will find biographical sketches for the pioneers who signed the Cumberland Compact on May 13, 1780.
Lest you think this book is filled with great historical information – it is. However, it is also illustrated with the paintings of nationally recognized artist, David Wright and abundant photography of old roads, buffalo trace segments, fords, fort sites and ruins, relics, historic sites, and portraits of pioneers.
Volume I Founding of the Cumberland Settlements - The First Atlas 1779 - 1804 is in limited pre-publication sales (through August 31st) and can only be purchased via their website . Delivery on these books is expected in October. Also included with the Atlas is a CD containing copies of all 1,500 land grants. This data supplement is also available in a separately purchased book.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

1888 Summer Teachers' School

Since schools will soon be starting up, let's look back at a Summer Teacher Institute held in July 1888. The students compiled the letter to report on their activities. The Robertson County[Tenn.] Teachers Normal School was held on the grounds of the Cedar Hill Methodist Episcopal Church, South, under the oversight of the County Superintendent, J.E. Ruffin. Photo is the Cedar Hill Methodist Church, Cedar Hill, Tenn.

Report from Cedar Hill [Tenn.] Normal School – Springfield Record, July 5, 1888

Knowing the great interest you feel in the young teachers of Robertson county, we offer you a few items from our Normal school now in session at Cedar Hill. And as all young folks like to see their name in the paper we will, in our jottings, insert the name of every member of the class.
The first two weeks of our term Prof. Hooker gave us a thorough drill in practical Arithmetic, introducing some work entirely new to some of us.
Prof. Willett gave us an exhaustive review of practical and analytical Grammar on a new method, which we like very much, and Prof. Clinard wrestled with our dull comprehension in the intricate analysis of intellectual Arithmetic.
This week Prof. Watson has critically ventilated all our pet authors and theories upon Phonic Elements, Reading and Elocution. His work has been intensely interesting both for its merit and novelty.
Prof. Empson has been laboring hard to impress upon our imaginations the graceful forms of his elegant penmanship. Miss Callie Johnson has been striving, with equal emphasis, to resurrect the little knowledge of Geography, which we obtained in our childhood days; and out Superintendent has set us to writing a History of the United States. We think of having it copyrighted and published under the firm name of Robertson County Teachers Normal School.
Our class is composed of twenty girls and five boys. A citizen of Cedar Hill said he thought the women would capture the school of Robertson County before many years, and Supt. Ruffin flattered us by rejoining, “they ought to.”
Bud Moore, Nat Kernan, Charlie Payne and John Cook are domiciled at Rev. F.G. Cobb’s. When Bro. Cobb was asked if the boys had run him from home yet, he remarked, with a wise look, “I think I will hold the fort.”
Misses Lula and Lee Atkins are boarding at Mrs. Melvin’s; Attie Rosson and Maggie Morrow at J.F. Ruffin’s; Sudie and Mattie Chambers at J.C. Ruffin’s; Lattie Holland at Mrs. Wynn’s; Lula Jones and Ida Fry at Dr. Hawkins’; Prof. and Mrs. Walton and John T. White at W.R. Featherston’s and Prof. Empson and Clarance Nave at T.J. Ayers.
Our school is opened every morning with religious service. Misses Jessie Ruffin and Mattie Ayers are our organists. Misses Minnie Henry, Kittie Connell, Walton Ryan and Mollie Clinard, come regularly from Springfield. Bud Moore is the champion athlete of the class.
Nat Kernan is the bashful boy in school. He was seen one evening throwing stones (very softly, of course) at some girls who were leisurely taking a walk down the railroad. Misses Kittie Connell and Mollie Clinard could not be convinced that they are not the tallest in the school until Prof. Willett backed up the standard. Sudie Chambers and Carrie Ruffin are the baby girls of the class.
The girls have christened Prof. Hooker “Lightening Calculator.” Prof. Walton is known as “Old Chris,” and Prof. White “Little Chris.” We are hunting a nick name for Supt. Ruffin but we shan’t talk very loud till after examination.
Mr. and Mrs. T.J. Ayers entertained Prof. and Mrs. Walton and a number of students, Thursday night. The most delightful feature of the evening was Mrs. Walton’s rendition of some find music on the piano. Bro. Reams and Mr. Ben Mallory of Adams Station, spent one day with us.
We have had quite a number of visitors. The people of Cedar Hill have manifested some interest in our work and have treated us with marked courtesy and hospitality. The most delightful entertainment of the season, was given at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Bascom Batts, in honor of Misses Clardy and Carlyle, who are visiting there. We, poor, tired Normal students, were out en masse and all went away thinking our kind entertainers for turning our thoughts away from formulas and rlues event for an evening. We miss, this year, some familiar faces of last year’s class.” Virginia Cobb, Nora Richards, Gussie Owen, Addie Smith, Georgie Atkins and Nannie Atkins, Lucy Felts, Louis P. Pearson, C.P. Kernan, J.E. Empson, and others. Most of all we miss Prof. Borthick, one of our best teacher. One of them, Prof. Pearson, has died. A man whom we all admired – Miss Nannie Atkins has abandoned her profession to became a farmer.
This 1888 report mentioned Professor Louis P. Pearson. His obituary appeared in the Springfield [Tennessee] Record just two months before the school report was shared.
“On Sunday night, April 29th, gloom was cast over the entire community by the death of Professor Louis P. Pearson. No grander, nobler man ever lived. Notwithstanding he had been sorely afflicted for years, he ever maintained a cheerful and amiable disposition. He was a candidate for County Court Clerk in the race of 1886. He leaves a devoted mother and twin sister, and other loving sisters and brothers.”
Sources: Springfield Record, 5 July & 10 May 1888.
Newspapers in smaller town are likely to report personal information and relationships, which may shed new light on our research. Find new records and keep the story alive.
J. Mark Lowe
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